If you’ve tried ramen in Los Angeles, chances are you’ve slurped down a bowl of tonkotsu, the flavorful broth made by boiling down pork bones that’s commonplace at most ramen shops. The four chef/owners at the new Iki Ramen in Koreatown are hoping to broaden your ramen horizons.
Jeffrey Undiarto, who is the general manager and sake sommelier at n/naka, teamed with childhood friend Sabastian Karyadi and chefs Hiroyuki Masato and Andy Juliady to open the restaurant, which is in the space formerly occupied by Saint Martha.
“We want Iki to be playful,” said co-owner Karyadi, who has worked at Mori Sushi. “Ramen is almost like a freestyle food. Sushi is pretty strict, kaiseki is very strict. Ramen is really where we can express ourselves a little more. There are almost no boundaries to it.”
And they are trying to source the most humanely raised, organic meats as possible. The chefs slowly braise Niman Ranch pork to make the pork stock, while Jidori is the basis of the chicken broth.
In addition to familiar shio, tonkotsu and shoyu styles, you’ll find ramen made with compound truffle butter, a spicy miso ramen suitable for vegans and burnt garlic tonkotsu with sweet corn.
“Our ramen, we believe, is really pretty original,” said Karyadi. “But we’re following old-school Japanese techniques and philosophies.”
Another less common offering is a shio ramen broth punched up with yuzu zest and yuzu juice. The bowl arrives with a coil of noodles half-cloaked below two fatty cuts of pork belly, scallions and fermented bamboo shoots in a light brown broth.
A sweet, marinated egg can also be added. And in Undiarto’s opinion, it should be.
Appetizers at Iki Ramen skew irregular too. There’s a crudo-influenced salmon sashimi in yuzu oil topped with light puffs of burrata, bao filled with things such as katsu shrimp or smoked pork, and kabocha-and-cheddar-stuffed croquettes with Japanese mayo.
Dessert is comprised of three choices: a semisweet, black sesame crème brulée and small scoops of matcha or shio-koji ice cream.
“We wanted to do something with a restaurant menu where we’re incorporating our ideas and knowledge, Karyadi said. “We like to eat this style of ramen and this style of sashimi and we just hope that other people enjoy it and are happy eating what we’re happy eating.”
740 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles, (424) 335-7749, ikiramen.com/